Class Note for PHIL 160 at UMass(8)
Class Note for PHIL 160 at UMass(8)
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Unit 2 Handout 2 DesJardin s Environmental Ethics Chapter 3 Ethics and Economics Managing Public Lands An environmental problem 0 American government agencies such as the US Forest Service are not managing public lands and resources in an ecologically sound way That is there exist problems of deforestation loss of species and contaminated water and air all as a result of how the Forest Service has managed public land Diagnosing the problem 0 The values that society places on the natural world Le what society views as the appropriate value to place on our natural resources in determining what will be ecologically sound management can be seen in the decisions that Agencies like the US Forest Service make They must balance a set of competing and con icting interests loggers treeehuggers etc 0 So the diagnosis ofparticular land use problems and how one will see the land as mismanaged will depend on the point ofview of the interest group among the group of competing interests 0 the treeehuggers will say that US Forest service is doing too little to preserve natural species and keep out invasive ones for eXaInple O a timber company may say that sanctions preventing harvests due to spotted owls and the like is costing people jobs and ruining the business 0 The tool used most commonly to strike such balances of competing interests is economic analysis Thus environmental problems are often understood as economic problems and so problems to be solved by economists Forests Preservation or Conservation The conservationist postion eg Pinchot is that forestlands are to be conserved so that they might be wier meal and ontrolled by all citizens O The conservationist advice to the Forest Service will be to handle the forest in such a way as to promote and perpetuate its greatest use to men Pinchot The preservationist position eg Muir is that the wilderness has more than instrumental value to human beings Forestlands have spiritual and aesthetic value and the living things that comprise the forestlands have inherent worth Thus forestlands should largely keprotetted and preserved from humans trying to spoil it The question boils down to this Do our forestlands have merely instrumental value or does it have intrinsic value 0 instrumental value extrinsic value value only in the sense ofmoving us toward something that does have intrinsic value 0 intrinsic value value for its own sake something is intrinsically valuable if it has value on its own The Preservationists say that the wilderness has intrinsic value while the Conservationist say that it has only instrumental value The only thing that is intrinsically valuable to the conservationist is satisfaction of human wants and preferences 0 The preservationist diagnosis of the problem land with intrinsic worth is being destroyed the prescription for the forestry mismanagement is make it off limits as a resource at all 0 The conservationist diagnosis of the problem is that valuable resources are not being used as efficiently and effectively as they could be 2 competing prescriptions for the forestry mismanagement problem 0 1 to treat it as an economic issue requiring an economic solution ie let the free market determine how public land is to be usedmanaged O 2 allow the resources truly to belong to everyone by using public policy and forestry experts to determine the best way to serve the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time Managing the National Forests The above two types of solutions offered by the conservationist position are both utilitarian but emphasize it different ways They are also the two main competitors put forth to solve the mismanagement problem Again both views agree about the desired end the question is as to what the best means are to achieve those ends 0 Why is the US Forest Service failing to manage the forest lands in a fair and efficient way 0 the economic perspective the bureaucracy is organized in such a way that the managers have incentives only to maximize their budget 39 the economic solution marketization of the Forest Service let the market place determine how best to satisfy the greatest good for the greatest number 0 the policy perspective let the forestry service rely on informed judgments of public policy and forestry experts 39 the policy solution let the people be heard through the policy processes of their elected representatives and place regulations to control the accessexploitation of forest lands Pollution and Economics 0 On the issue of air and water pollution a similar kind of economic analysis has been put forth Like before this economic analysis mkes a utilitarianpervgpeitive both in diagnosing the problemspecifying the goal and in its proposed solution 0 Eg William Baxter s The Cmefor Optimal Pollution 0 A challenge for identifying pollution problems 0 How much contamination is too much We surely cannot strive for pure air and water as these don t even seem to exist in nature So how can it be determined what a safe level ofpollution is O Baxter s Answer there is no normative de nition of clean air or pure water hence no de nition of polluted air or pollution eXigjt k rgrereme to the needs of mrf 0 Baxter s Plan Let the free market decide how much pollution is acceptable to society 0 ifindividuals in a society are free to engage in whatever exchanges of resources are mutually satisfactory for themselves then at least in theory every resource in society will be deployed in the way that yields the greatest possible human satisfaction Ethical Issues in Economic Analysis The first thing to notice is how valueiladen ie subjective economic analysis is it is completely utilitarian 0 The market version ofutilimrianism assumed by O Toole and Baxter is a version ofpre Meme utilitarianism O Mareet Utilitmianimz assumes that the best way to determine what is good for someone is to figure out what that person wants and that the best way to learn this is to see what that person is willing to pay for in the marketplace 0 Why is this considered a good theory to apply to the problems ofland management and pollution 3 arguments why it is the best theory to apply to the problems 0 1 It is a basic tenet of our civilization according to Baxter that every person should be free to do whatever he wishes so long as his actions to do not interfere with the interests of other people 0 2 Market solutions are committed to the value ofproperty rights and we as a culture place an extremely high importance on private property rights So it is consistent with our values to look to market utilitarianism for a solution 0 3 Market solutions understand the importance ofproviding incentives since people are inherently selfiinterested and egoistic by providing incentives to those charged with handling land use and pollution problems market utilitarianism can affect real change in the decision making processes of said managers CostBenefit Analysis An implicit assumption in Baxter and O Toole s Market Utilitarianism is that environmenml laws need to be rewritten in ways that incorporate costbene ts analysis Problems with CiB analysis and the economic solution to environmental problems 0 Costibenefit analysis still arrives at results at can incur tremendous ones for some gain earned 0 A better alternative especially when it comes to pollution and land use concerns is to come up cost effective solutions which are concerned solely with minimizing costs 0 Desjardins suggest that much of the appeal of CiBiA is that it gets confused with costieffectiveness 0 It seems unlikely that all of our values and goals can be expressed economically that is in monetary terms 0 Markets do not exist for many environmental goods so we must rely estimated values ie an economist decides how economic value some environmenml good would have if there were a market for it Thus putting the giving economists the right to place a value on environmental goods for all ofus But it is not clear what criterion an economist might use to determine that value 0 Even ifwe could put a dollar amount on something like an environmental good it is not clear that we should Ethical Analysis and Environmental Economics Problems for the economic analysismarket utilitarian View 1 The measurement problem how do we determine what the consequences will actually come to be How far into the future do we need to draw out those consequences 2 It seems that there is something more to the value of eg wilderness land than can be measured by users willingness to pay for them 3 Sagoff argues that economic analysis rests on a confusion that blurrs the distinction between desirespreferences and beliefsvalues Much ofwhat is important to people about the environment can be found in their beliefs and values but the market cannot measure these 0 Reducing beliefs and values to desireswants drastically distorts the picture of humanity It says that what we are essentially at all times are eomumem 0 By treating us at all times as consumers it ignores our lives as citizens Thus it threatens to undermine the democratic political process